Wildevy Around the Canals 137 km MTB Ride

Weekend Things! Weekends are made for fun and adventures, as you already know! This past weekend was no exception πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’¨πŸŒΈπŸŒΎπŸŒΌβ˜€οΈπŸ€πŸ€πŸ„πŸ‚πŸŽπŸ¦ŽπŸ¦ŸπŸ¦‹πŸœπŸžπŸ›πŸ₯³.  

It all started on Thursday, 12 March 2020, pre-COVID. I spotted a self-navigated endurance ride being advertised by Ultimate Trail Adventures. 137 km on your mountain bike, along the Brits Canals, near Hartbeespoort Dam, in the North West Province. Promoted as an organised training ride, the offer included three sponsored and stocked water points, medical backup, a .gpx route file supplied pre-ride, and a gourmet burger and beer or gin on finishing the ride πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’¨πŸ”πŸΊπŸΉ. Who can say no to such an offer? AND I registered πŸ–πŸ€“πŸ˜…!

COVID19 arrived and our training ride had to be postponed, and moved out 😷🚫🚳😒! However, my training did not stop, I continued training throughout COVID-19 πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈ, and then finally we were allowed to participate in events again πŸ’ƒ πŸ₯³! Wildevy Around the Canals was ON and happening on Saturday, 5 September 2020 πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’¨πŸ’ͺ! My first event post-COVID-19!

The build-up and excitement was much for me, a rather emotional affair to be honest 😁! β€œThe Black Stallion” 🚲 washed and lubed, kit, gear and nutrition at the ready on Friday, 4 September 2020 πŸš²πŸŽ’πŸŒπŸ’¦! I was so excited, my brain just did not want to switch off. Counting sheep πŸπŸ‘ did not help, a hot milk drink πŸ₯› neither 🚫😴. Bumped a ride to the event with my Teamie for the day, Jaques Pypers. At 5:00 am on Saturday, 5 September 2020, we zoomed down the highway, bikes on the rack, spirits high, direction Die Wildevy, North West Province πŸš™πŸ’¨. On arrival, excitedly, we registered, got our race timing boards from BoutTime, who were the official event management and timekeeping facilitator, and one of the sponsors. Chit-chat in the parking area and on the starting line with cycling friends added to the vibe! My batch start time was 7:20 am! Waiting for my adventure to start I realised that I’m riding a 137 km gravel ride on about 3.5 hours of sleep πŸ€­πŸ™‚πŸ˜¬! However, I was in the starting block, and nothing was going to deter me from riding Wildevy Around the Canals πŸ’ͺ😁! β€œBig Girl Panties” πŸ‘™ on, πŸ‘‰ and at promptly 7:20 am, the fun and games started πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄πŸ’¨!

The starting batches were small in numbers, to comply with COVID-19 rules, and Jaques and I found ourselves in position four and five, pedalling strong, to the fist turn off. We took a left into the farmlands, which was beautiful and green. At the second turning point, which directed us onto the road running parallel to the Brits Canals, we, unfortunately, shot past, corrected quickly, but lost our positions. There was a strong group behind us, and they cycled off into the distance 🀭! 3.5 Hours of sleep caught up with me πŸ™ƒ! The water points were spaced at 47 km, sponsored by BoutTime, 78 km, sponsored by PVM and 110 km, sponsored by Ecologic. At about 25 km we stopped to remove some warm layers πŸ§₯! With my all-weather jacket off, my system cooled down and riding was better. To be honest, I prayed all the way to WP #1! Feeling that I was holding back my Teamie, and navigator, I got to the first water point and checked how far ahead of us the other riders were, as I thought it would be better to get out of the ride there and allow Jaques to complete the ride without me breaking his speed. However, miracles do happen! AND I do not subscribe to the DNF club πŸ˜…! So, I took my time to fuel my body, hydrated on PVM Octane, water and a lick of Coke, snacked on a PVM Energy Bar, Banana, Energade Sports Jellies and popped a PVM Octane Gel. The minutes spent with the BoutTime Crew and Jaques’s patients saved my ride. I felt refreshed and energised after this first pitstop, and will be forever grateful to Neil Cameron, his crew and Jaques πŸ€—. I was able to pedal away, refreshed and spirit revived, heading for WP #2, aborting my ride notions completely forgotten 😜! I noticed more of the beautiful landscape and the soothing water running down the Brits Canals. Magic! 

The ride along the Canals mainly takes one through farmlands, and it is absolutely stunning. Green crop fields met us around every turn and bend in the road, with large irrigation systems keeping the crops cool, dams and beautiful herds of cattle. Crops spotted were wheat, spinach, lettuce and cabbage. We were now heading for WP #2 at 78 km and were making up for the slow first quarter of the ride. High energy and good spirits returned and helped us along at a decent pace, crossing a waterlogged bridge πŸ’¦, going through muddy puddles and lovely bushveld. WP #2 appeared in the distance, a little white gazebo, an oasis in our 137 km gravel chase πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸ’¨πŸ˜. The friendly PVM crew welcomed us at 78 km and again we could refill, refuel and reignite our spirits. Here again, I had a PVM Energy Bar, Banana, Energade Sports Jellies and popped two PVM Octane Gels, Vanilla flavour. The latter was not such a good idea, should only have taken one. En route to WP #3, the second Gel really tried it’s best to have a conversation with me, making me feel queasy 🀭! But, this was not the time to allow anything to interfere with my ride, we were on a roll and making good time. So I sipped on water and eventually, the funny feeling subsided and it was smooth rolling.

We were now heading for WP #3 at 110 km, a 32 km stretch ahead of us. Between us and WP #3 was a Β± 11 km heavily corrugated and sandy gravel section. That is when you focus on navigating the best line, you disregard the steady climb, every bump in the road, and pray to your Maker for strength, and to help and guide you to the next pit-stop. That is also when you sing to yourself and contemplate life as a whole πŸ˜…!

WP #3 was the next best thing to chocolate! We had a strong approach, screeched to a halt and were welcomed by the crew! Heaven! Grateful for the brilliant and friendly service, my water bottle was refilled with PVM Ignite, fabulous and potent stuff! Some Q-Bike Dry Chain Lube was offered and applied to my bike chain which worked very hard over the last 110 km, and the rest of the crew made sure we were filled and fuelled with PVM Energy Bars, PVM Octane Gel, Jelly Babies, Bananas, Chips and more on offer. Brilliant πŸ‘Œ5⭐️!

Team Stofpad Trappers left WP #3 with 27 km to go to Die Wildevy, a Gourmet Burger and Beer or Gin πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’¨πŸ”πŸΊπŸΉ waiting for us. We hooked up with two fellow riders for a few kilometres, a girl team. This was really nice, the four of us made good way and the change in the rider dynamic was great from a psychological perspective. Eventually, we pulled away from the girls and proceeded on route. We overshot a second time with about 500 m, backtracked and then there was about 10 km left for us to negotiate to the finish line! This included some tar sections, more farmland with glorious irrigation systems, which sprayed water right onto the road where we could zip through and allow the little droplets to cool us down, fabulous πŸ’¦πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈ! 

There was a section where we had to pass a housing development, which was a bit daunting, as you had to watch out for people and cars! Finally, we made a left turn, away from the hustle, and then we had about 2 km to the entrance of Die Wildevy! Team Stofpad Trappers were really giving it our all, pedalling like mad, even in this last little stretch! My Distance Meter on β€œThe Black Stallion” indicated 137 km, AND no entrance to Die Wildevy. This because of our two small back-tracks. My mind at this time did a summersault, the emotions took over 😒! Then Jaques, the most supportive and patient teammate, and brilliant navigator indicated we have to cross over the tar to the other side, the end was near. I saw the flags, the entrance to Die Wildevy, pedalled even harder, and then we were there, through the thick sand at the entrance, and came to a halt right in front of the timing booth! The end of a tough, but absolutely fabulous 137 km adventure along the Canals of Brits. Our timing boards were removed, meal tickets handed over and THEN, we could relax in the luscious garden of Die Wildevy, savouring an ice cold Craft Beer from Legends Brewery and sinking our teeth into the most delicious Gourmet Burger and Chips πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’¨πŸ”πŸΊ! Reminiscing about our 137 km training ride and epic adventure, which took us down, gravel roads, jeep track, a bit of tar and the stunning landscape around the Brits Canals.

I don’t have many pictures of this adventure, but the experience will be with me for a lifetime! The lessons learnt on this ride are also priceless! Enough sleep before the time, nutrition before and during an endurance ride, navigation and recovery. 

Sincere thanks to Jaques Pypers, who agreed to team up with me and be our navigator, I will be forever grateful, it was really a fabulous experience. Then the event organiser, sponsors and suppliers; Ultimate Trail Adventures, BoutTime ZA, Ecologic Degreaser Disinfectant, PVM, Bike And Trail Adventure Medics PTY LTD, Die Wildevy and Legends Brewery! It was a great initiative and well organised five-star event! Looking forward to the next one!

Stay Focused! Stay on Track! Stay Positive! Stay Motivated! Keep Moving! Be Safe! REBEL Life πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸ’ƒπŸŽΆπŸŽΈπŸ₯³πŸΆπŸΆπŸ€β™₯οΈπŸ¦πŸ–πŸ’»πŸ€“πŸ€©! Just Ride!

Photos by Die Wildevy, Ultimate Trail Adventures, Jaques Pypers and Luculle Stols